This blog is made up of thoughts for my children as I battle cancer. It is not meant to be all knowing or holier than thou. It is simply a place for those that have asked, to read about the lessons that I would like to share with my children, whether I am able to stay with them, or not.



As I contemplate what I have left in this life, my thoughts often turn to “What have I done with this gift so far?” The answer to that question is exactly as deep and complex as the question. I can choose to look at it from a very high level and say that I have made mistakes, but overall, feel pretty good about my efforts. That is fine for maintenance purposes, but as I begin this Introduction from a hospital bed afflicted with Stage IV Prostate Cancer at 40 years old, it is not sufficient. The prognosis for my disease lies somewhere between 6 months and 2 years.

The odd thing about life is its ever changing definitions and standards. When I was younger, I would characterize life as freedom to make my own decisions and choices, beholden to no one. When I married, my life felt like it was intangible, yet to be defined, like a ghost. It was something that I was working towards, a goal. My wife and I were building a life together. It was like watching our first home being built. I saw the foundation, then the structure come into focus. Eventually, we began to see the frame taking shape to resemble our dreams and expectations. After we had children, my life completely became our life. Our life developed into defined roles. Some, my wife assumed, while others became mine. Instead of a mist that was formed by the particles of a concept, life became tangible and required research, planning, and action. I didn’t think of me anymore. Me became us. Not all the time. I’m not so full of myself to disregard times of selfishness, but my family of four, was ONE. I felt that one of my main roles and responsibilities was to provide for my family. To provide is a concept that isn’t only financial, but also to make sure that essential necessities of life were available to my family. Sometimes it was paid for, sometimes it was a shoulder, and sometimes, it was just time.

Not too long ago, our life changed. At 39, what was thought to be Prostatitis was diagnosed as Advanced and Metastatic Prostate Cancer. The cancer had left the prostate and spread to the lymph nodes, bladder, hips, pelvis, ribs, sternum, shoulder blades, and spine. My vision of life turned into a fight to live. My children, ages 9 and 11 became the focus of that fight.

As I pondered that high level question of whether I have done enough with my life, it inevitably became a much deeper question with much deeper answers. The more I thought about the question, the more I realized that the answer was much more involved than, “basically, I did fine.” The fact that I have 2 young children that I may not see progress into adulthood told me all that I needed to know. No matter what I had ever done, unless I left a road map for them, it could never be enough.

So what did I want for them? Easy enough. Everything. The best. All they could dream and all that they desired. As I prepared to make sure that they had all of these things, I realized that wanting these things at a high level, but not defining or measuring what that meant or telling them how to achieve it was the equivalent of calling them to my death bed, shaking their hands, and telling them, “Good Luck!” If that is all I give them, I have not done nearly enough.

These writings then, are exactly that. I don’t know how long I will have before I am called from this place, but I want my wife and children to know what I mean when I say, “I want the best for you.” I want them to feel my spirit with them, even if my body cannot. Mostly, I want my immeasurable love for them to be felt eternally as they progress through this life. I love them with every particle of my being and it overwhelms me. I want them to always know that without question. I want to define what “The Best” means to me and the values that make the type of person who lives that kind of life. This is for them, in the hopes that it will give them a map to use, whether I am there to guide them in this life, or the next.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life Isn't Fair! Or Unfair...

I usually like to write at night. It is peaceful and serene. My mind is able to wander and pick the places it needs to go. It is meditation to me. Things that active thought gets in the way of. Tonight is like that. I have many things on my mind, but when I try to pick one out, I can’t complete a thought. I think that is exactly where I need to go. I am trying to understand why I have cancer. What lesson am I to learn? What am I to teach? Is it only necessary to be the best example I can be? And since I’m on this soul-searching expedition, is this fair? Why is life decidedly unfair sometimes? I know that better people than I have dealt with far more, but my kids are innocent bystanders in this thing. I know that I believe that life is just life. The good and bad that happen here are not reward or punishment. They are only tests and trials. The judgment is based on how we handle life’s unfairness, not a question of whether we are victim to it or not. All of us will live through tough times. As we battle them, will we choose to look at our feet as we trudge through them? Or will we stride purposely, looking ahead to better times and resolution? I wish I could say I always choose the latter, but unfortunately, we are all more similar than we like to think, and I sometimes trudge through the former. One of the simplest thoughts pertaining to this is, “This, too, shall pass”. This applies to good times and bad. Life rolls on whether we are enjoying it at that moment or not. We are given a finite time here, and we don’t know how long we will get. So, while this too shall pass, remember that it does pass, quickly. If you choose to dwell on unfairness and tough times, you minimize the time spent enjoying what God has given you. When troubles hit, sit down and analyze what you need to learn from the situation. As the lesson becomes clearer, so will the solution. As you see what you need to learn, you can begin to understand why you needed to be in that situation. It becomes part of what makes you who you are, not fair or unfair. It does not mean that it will not hurt. Sometimes you will stride purposely towards a resolution, but not toward better times, with tears streaming down your face. Sometimes what is truly unfair in this life won’t be better times until the next. Cancer is like that. For some, the joy is felt here and we get to celebrate miracles. For others, they have to wait for that joy until the miracle and understanding is found in the next life. What we see here is so limited. It was explained to me once that the big picture is like a giant warehouse, filled with everything. In this life, the lights are off and we have a small flashlight. We can only see what that little spot of light will show us. When you go to heaven, it is like someone turns on the lights and you can see everything. Life is not fair or unfair. It is meant to be a journey filled with ups and downs. Be the person who understands that tough times build you. Feel joy, feel sorrow. Feel anger. But know that what you were meant to feel, is love. Always return to that and you will keep your head up as you stride through life with purpose. Fair or unfair.